Look at you, right back here at mmm-yoso!!! probably looking for food blogging. Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) are each busy with 'research' for future posts and Cathy is writing today, with 'results'.
Mission Gorge Road, just North of Interstate 8 is a mish-mash of businesses. Bookended by Starbucks, surrounding new and used car dealerships, banks, drug stores, numerous fast food drive thru lanes, a pizza parlor, sit down restaurants, a great vegan donut shop, as well as a Kaiser Hospital and Clinic. There are also more than several Purveyors ofadult beverageswhich also sell foodin this area of town.JT's is located closest to the Interstate, on the East side, just across from Rose Toyota and a few blocks South of Iowa Meat farms (sister of Seisel's Meats). The plain exterior is not a signal of things to come. The bar area has seemingly endless adult beverage choices, numerous televisions, seating and there are pool and ping pong tables in the back. There are several chalkboards mentioning beer specials, or you can ask. Menus are on tables. You walk up to the bar to order. Always on the lookout for specials, the back of the menu is usually what I read first.However, the bottom of the front page caught my eye on our first visit- beef from Iowa Meat Farms. Ground fresh daily.Here are the center pages, if you are interested. Don't pay too much attention though...the menu is going to be changing up soon. The same talented people who make the wonderful food I'm about to show you will be working on a new menu with all fresh (as in nothing frozen) items. Currently, the potstickers and fries and tots are frozen items. Basic Burger (cooked to a perfect medium rare, as I had ordered) ($8). Served on a fresh, toasted bun with crispy lettuce, tomato and onion, this is one of the best I've had in a while. It's 1/2 pound before cooking.Since it was a Monday, the $3 wings were calling. Medium Buffalo and Teriyaki were our chosen flavors this visit. The wings were meaty, fried crispy and the flavors not overwhelming (the Teriyaki was not sweet, a plus in my book).Another visit, on a Friday, had The Mister ordering a 16 ounce Cream Ale from (local) Mother Earth Brewing ($5).Friday Fish Sandwich ($6.25) was quite large, with the cheese melted into the bun, a nice touch. The fish was moist and the batter light, almost fluffy crispy. The cole slaw here is excellent, by the way.Sides can be fries, tots, slaw or a side salad. You can see fresh mushrooms on the salad, since they use fresh mushrooms for the beer battered mushroom basket. This visit, The Mister ordered the bacon and Bleu burger ($9.25). Again, the cheese melted into the bun-toasty bleu cheese...so good. You can see the bacon and now can imagine how good it was. It was, it was.
Hello again from mmm-yoso!!! a food blog. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are a bit busy today and Cathy is writing a quick post.
After posting about El Cajon Bistro and Bakery in 2013, it became a regular spot to drop in for a quick snack before grocery shopping at either Kaelins (which has been upgraded in a great way), or Valley Foods when we didn't want to eat at the hot food area in either of those stores. (ecb is equidistant from each of those grocers).The name has slightly changed, removing the 'Bakery' portion and dinner is now offered here. This location is in the same parking lot as Saray and Sultan Bakalava, which are also regular stops for snacks. The ordering area is the same, as is the dining area with an emphasis on juices and fresh fruit along with the still tremendous coffee offerings.This day we decided to have breakfast and The Mister ordered his favorite item- the berry pancakes with bacon and over easy eggs ($8). The fresh berries baked into the house made pancake batter is just a perfect flavor combination and always satisfying.The chalkboard at my eye level on the counter had me curious. I asked what the difference was between this and the 'regular' eggs benedict was and the answer was 'green Hollandaise sauce'. For some reason, I have been asking for the 'green' sauced items at quite a few places this year (tomatillo, suizas, culichi, chimichurri and pesto easily come to mind) now this was a choice. Had to! Well, this was just wonderful! The eggs were poached hard and the sauce was great, with that bit of difference than plain Hollandaise as well as a good amount of fresh veggies making this an excellent breakfast treat.
Similar to its sister location (La Mesa Bistro and Bakery), the lines are out the door on weekends, unless you get here early.
ecb 109 Jamacha El Cajon 92019 (619)590-0278Website Open 7 a.m. daily (closes 4 p.m. Sun-Mon, 8 pm other days)
If you have visited here before, you know mmm-yoso is KirkK's foodblog, mostly featuring his wonderful reports on dining in San Diego and worldwide. Cathy helps keep the blog going and has an encyclopedic knowledge of San Diego eateries, particularly those that the rest of us might miss. Some days, Ed (from Yuma) will post about eating on his travels and especially about dining in Yuma. Today is one of those days; you have been warned.
The most exciting new addition to the Yuma dining scene is The Farmhouse Bistro:
Its location – set back from the street with limited signage and lighting – makes this a tough location and many eateries have occupied this site for brief periods since I moved to town, including Mi Playita, TJ's Marisquero, Viejo Loco, Small Fries, Rusty Spoon, and most recently Spanky's Chophouse. But long time Yumans know the location as "where Hensley's Beef, Beans, and Beer used to be," a steakhouse that thrived here for 20 years, 1979-1999.
The interior is small and simple. Of course, there are a couple flatscreen TVs and a bar area that can't yet sell alcohol:
But most of the dining area is filled with about 10 tables of various sizes, and the rustic painted walls are reminiscent of a rural farmhouse (and when packed at lunch, the room almost sounds like the mess hall at a ranch):
While the decor is nothing to speak of, the menu looked interesting right from the start.
On my first visit, my friend and former colleague, Dawn, wanted the lamb burger ($12), so I went conventional and had the basic burger ($14). Hers looked like this:
She said the flavor of the ground meat had a distinct lamb flavor, and she loved the brie cheese topping. My farmhouse burger looked similar and different:
I was happy. I loved the char from the grill, the medium rare doneness of the patty, and the beefy taste of the meat. The restaurant tries to source all of their meats and produce locally – if possible. Maybe that’s part of why it tasted so good.
We were both delighted by the french fries (and surprised as the menu had not mentioned that they came with the burgers). While not crispy crunchy, they were full of real potato flavor – clearly none of them had ever seen the interior of a freezer. People with more perceptive tastebuds may have detected the touch of truffle oil on the potatoes, but I was just happy to get real honest french fries.
On my next visit, I had to try the pork belly tacos ($12) –who could pass up Korean style pork belly tacos? There were 4 well filled tacos:
This close-up gives you a better idea of what is going on:
The thick chunks of pork belly were simply prepared; I could detect no Korean marinade or seasoning, but I was delighted by the smoky char of some pieces. The coleslaw with red and regular cabbage was lightly dressed and definitely not sweet or goopy. As far as I could tell, the only "Korean" seasoning was the ground red chili powder sprinkled over the slaw.
Nonetheless, I had no complaints. The flavor of the pork belly was excellent, and the preparation of the tacos emphasized the chewy, porky, chargrilled flavor of the meat. I would have this again.
Currently The Farmhouse has no liquor license, which is a bad thing for the restaurant I am sure, but it can be a good thing for customers because diners can bring bottles of wine (and maybe beer?) with them to enjoy – and pay no restaurant markup on the beverage. I'm not sure when they will get a liquor license, but let me suggest that my wino friends come try the bistro now when you can save money.
For those not interested in alcoholic beverages, The Farmhouse offers your standard choices plus this amazing beverage ($3):
What you are looking at is a glass of kale lemonade (no I'm not making that up). It is complex and refreshing and probably even healthy for you. Welcome to 2015.
Since two lunches had been a success, Tina and I decided to come by for dinner. We started our meal (after the kale lemonades) with the most unusual sounding item on the menu, fried pickle ($7):
The restaurant brines a range of vegetables – this night included green beans, zucchini slices, small cauliflower florets, sweet potato chunks, and onion strips – dips them in tempura batter, fries them, and serves them with their house sauce, a spicy teriyaki mayo.
Eating the fried pickles was a treat for the palate. Sour, salty, and crunchy/greasy all at once. These were definitely addictive, if a bit repetitive, and we ate every piece.
The main courses continued to challenge our taste buds and our expectations. Tina chose the diver scallops ($26), which were perfectly cooked – charred at each end and rare in the middle. But look at how they were served:
What a treat for the eye. The scallops were perched atop a mound of beet risotto. The little white puffs are goat cheese quenelles, and the mound is surrounded by a buerre blanc sauce.
And what a treat for the mouth. The riced red beets with rice balanced the scallops nicely and contrasted with the goat cheese much like the old school borscht/sour cream combination. Tina (with a little of my help) happily ate everything on her plate.
I chose the duck breast ($28):
The breast, topped with garlic lemon purée, was served on a bed of lemon risotto, accompanied by three superb giant fresh local asparagus spears. I love asparagus and it doesn't get any better than those three spears. Moist crunchy tender flavorful.
The duck breast was cooked a perfect medium rare:
I enjoyed how the chef used the garlic and lemon flavors to contrast the richness of the duck breast. Certainly the best duck I have ever had in Yuma. The risotto was perfectly prepared, the rice being both creamy and al dente. If I had any quibble, it would be that the lemon risotto flavors were monochromatic. While the risotto was a perfect match to the duck breast, it was less interesting by itself.
For dessert, we had wanted to try the grilled peach, but of course, peaches aren’t in season (even in Yuma) so we opted for the banana crema ($9):
The small mason jar is a nice farmly touch. The banana crema itself was the bottom half of the desert. A layer of crunchy banana flavored cookie crumbs separated it from the raspberry/banana flavored crema at the top. The desert was certainly rich and unusual. It was also nice to see cheese courses on the dessert menu.
For me, The Farmhouse has exceeded expectations. The menu is certainly the most varied and interesting in town. The kitchen can turn out a wide range of dishes skillfully. Farm-to-table ingredients – witness that incredible asparagus – should be a perfect fit for Yuma, at least in the winter. In addition, the place is well staffed, and the service on each visit has been professional and personable. Of course, The Farmhouse is in a tough location, and the menu with lunches or salads between $9 and $14 and entrées from $25 up may intimidate some folks, but the restaurant has been busy and I hope that Yuma will support creative quality cuisine.
The Farmhouse Bistro, 2855 S. 4th Ave., Yuma AZ 85364, (928) 276-9735; open11- 2, and 5-11 Tuesday through Saturday, Sunday brunch 9-1. Closed Mondays.
Kirk, Ed(from Yuma) and Cathy are the usual writers here on mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Today, Cathy is writing.
The rush of a multitude of holidays with corresponding activities is winding down, with individuals cleaning up, rearranging and perhaps following some new patterns. Businesses are 'clearing out' holiday-centric food and decorating items. The Mister and I have been out and about, looking for some bargains, and, as always, manage to squeeze a meal into the midst of the shopping. Yes, both Kirk and I have writtena few posts aboutBristol Farms, an upscale market (the parent company is Albertsons) located in La Jolla.There is both a self serve area (salad bar, soup, hot foods) where you can select, package and then pay for your items and find a seat here in the Bristol Cafe (or just outside), or you can walk up and order items 'to go' or you can seat yourself and a friendly waiter/waitress will bring you a menu and you'll have table service. This Wednesday, the special was a cup of any Soup and Sandwich of the day for $7.49. The Mister chose the carrot ginger soup- which was fascinating in its complimentary flavors and excellent.The 'sandwich of the day' was a "Malibu Melt"...and the description made us simultaneously fearful and curious. Toasted sourdough, the top with soft grilled red onion, Monterey Jack cheese, tuna salad...on top of grilled honey ham and a basil aioli spread. Yeah, we ordered it, ate it and liked it (except for the onion; a bit too many flavors there and it was removed after a bite). The tuna salad alone was excellent, as was the grilled honey ham. No idea who concocted this in their brain, but it works.Playing it safe, I ordered the quiche of the day with a salad ($8.49). The simple salad was accompanied by the most wonderful Thousand Island dressing. The quiche (which you can purchase unbaked in the store) had melange of (at least three types) of roasted mushrooms and spinach baked into a wonderfully flavored custard which was all baked in a crispy, flaky shell.
Yet another day of trying something new, and it worked.
Bristol Farms 8510 Genessee Avenue San Diego 92122 (858) 558-4180 Website
Welcome to food blog mmm-yoso!!! where Kirk, Ed(from Yuma) and Cathy (for the most part) write food centric posts, sometimes interspersed with activities surrounding the acquisition of the food. Cathy is writing today.
The ritual of celebrating a New Year can be exhausting and The Mister and I slept through it, but were wide awake before 8 a.m. on January 1 to watch the 126th Tournament of Roses Rose Parade and all three Bowl games on television.
The next morning, we were in Pasadena (with 100,000 other people) enjoying the Post Parade Showcase of Floats, where we could walk along the two miles of roads and see up close details of all the 40+ floats which participated in the parade this year. Each float was designed to reflect the theme of the Parade, Inspiring Stories. This is a snippet of all we saw. Information overload, provided by the 'white suits', official representatives of the Tournament of Roses, who stood around each of their respective floats, answering questions about symbolism of the particular float as well as decorating materials used, made this two mile plus walk most interesting.
So, our food this day... Obligatory stop at the wonderful, open at 6 a.m., Cream Pan Japanese bakery resulted in a purchase of a loaf of sesame bread, container of still warm chicken karaage, cheese cracker flat and a fresh blueberry (on top of a layer of creamy pudding encased in a buttery, flaky crust) pastry.
Cream Pan 602 El Camino Real Tustin 92780
Inside the Showcase of Floats, there are several food and snack areas.We stopped at the Pie N Burger truck for a $3 slice of (still warm) boysenberry pie. It was at this point my phone told me I could not take any more photographs. I deleted every App while eating the delicious pie.
Not wanting to brave the tourist filled areas of Pasadena, The Mister and I discussed places we had seen while driving on side roads previously and began the drive home East on Huntington, the original Route 66. Previously, this small restaurant in the midst of an industrial area in Azusa, had us curious. We thought today would be good for a light meal. Small, with a seating capacity of 39, Corky's Place has been here for decades and run by family, who are respectfully memorialized. Prices are extremely fair and the short orders of phoned in breakfasts and grilled sandwiches were constantly being filled. However, we decided to order from the 'Mexican' side of the menu.The Mister ordered the two green enchiladas plate($6)-cheese filled. The sauce was excellent and the enchiladas were very cheesy, with a good stringy Oaxacan.We were given some good salsa with some average chips while waiting.Then there was this...a shrimp and avocado tostada ($5). There's a tostada shell with a layer of (very good) beans, lettuce, cheese, some fresh made guacamole and many, many tiny shrimp. Warm, not sauteed and the kind of shrimp you need to eat three at a time to get the flavor. The rest was filling and we made a note to come back and order from the American side of the menu.
Corky's Place 1050 Foothills Blvd. Azusa, CA 91702 (626)969-7861
I hope your year will be filled with daily adventures and inspirations.
Here you are, at the food blog named mmm-yoso!!! Today's quick post is written by Cathy.
During the pre-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas hustle and bustle of the vehicles carrying groups of people shopping at local malls, The Mister and I tried to get to places as they opened, or during weekday 'lulls' in foot traffic. We found that, just as before shopping in grocery stores, a quick meal before walking about was helpful in keeping to our planned excursions. On the ring road of Mission Valley Mall, on the spot where the Montgomery Ward Tire Center had been located, is Corner Bakery Cafe, a franchise which began on a corner, in Chicago, in 1991. There are now 184 locations in 19 States and the District of Columbia.The business model is similar to Panera in that you walk up, order, pay and your meal is brought to you, there is free wi-fi and the menu includes freshly baked goods, both sweet and savory with breakfast and lunch/dinner choices. Opening at 7 a.m. on weekdays, it's the perfect spot for breakfast before mall stores open. There is a good selection of coffees. This is a made to order 'Anaheim Scrambler' ($7.79) Freshly scrambled eggs mixed with applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese (and also green onion, which we asked not be mixed in) and topped with avocado slices. This is served with breakfast potatoes (or fresh fruit) and "Mom's Harvest" toast- grainy and seedy and tasty. Above is my favorite breakfast item, because it is unique to CBC. Swiss oatmeal ($4.49) -muesli- raw rolled oats, mixed with dried (raisins and cranberries) and fresh (apples and bananas) fruit and yogurt. Yes, a cold cereal breakfast. It's far more interesting than hot oatmeal and I enjoy it for breakfast. On the side there is a sweet crisp, sort of a thin biscotti made with dried fruit and topped with sugar crystals.One of my usual meals (here and everywhere) is a bowl of chili ($6). The version made here is excellent- two types of beans, ground beef, tomatoes, onions and mild peppers along with a great chili spice blend which is slightly sweet. It's served with a piece of fresh sourdough.
A fallback menu item we order is the Trio ($7.49) (which is really four salads, because a small order of field greens salad is always included). This day, the choices were: 1) tuna salad (which is tuna, red and green bell peppers, green onion and mayonnaise with some Dijon mustard and basil) 2) D.C chicken salad (chicken, green apples, currants, redonion, celery, mayonnaise and toasted almonds) 3) the new toasted sesame kale salad (fresh kale, shredded carrots and toasted sesame seeds with a ginger soy dressing). Each salad is so refreshing, perfectly dressed and bright tasting.
The year has been filled with mainly local places and a few franchises for meals out. We have had more meals at home than out, which I haven't posted about. It's been fun to share and so nice to see the good wishes to all of us here. Enjoy this final weekend of 2014!
Corner Bakery Cafe Camino de la Reina (SE corner, at Mission Center Drive) (619) 692-0423 Website
Before heading off to Sitka & Spruce for dinner, the Missus needed a couple of gifts. Chocolate is always appreciated. I looked up a couple of places and found a listing for Intrigue Chocolate who specializes in truffles.
The kitchen, cum shop is located....well, I'll quote the website:
"The shop, which is also our industrial-style kitchen, can be a little tricky to find because we are not on the street level. Easiest way to find us is to find the entrance to Sake Nomi (Sake bar) and continue up the stairs. Then it's just down the hall which turns to the left, and we are the clearly marked brown door, third on the left."
The two guys running the place were so enthusiastic, they'd let us try everything if we'd been able to stay longer! They also make a nice cold brew concentrate as well!
Our favorites were the Juniper Berry and the Nutmeg & Chipotle.
We loved the place, they just seem to enjoy what they do.....and even though they currently use, high quality Belcolade chocolate, we were given a taste of a work in progress, the chocolate they are developing on their own. It was nice talking coffee and Belgian chocolate. We'll be back.
Intrigue Chocolate 76 S Washington St. Suite 104 Seattle, WA 98104
We headed back to our room, dropped off the truffles, and headed off to....
Sitka & Spruce:
The walk was a tad over a mile, though the hills.....sheesh...anyway we did pretty good time, about 20 minutes to Melrose Market in the popular and trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood. We loved the setting; Sitka & Spruce is located in back of the brick building, understated, in that warm, yet somewhat industrial style, high ceilings, a large communal table, and open kitchen.....
The restaurant itself is not large; just a few tables, counter, and communal table seating. As is our MO, we try to eat early, before the rush and crowds. We usually get a better experience and the restaurant is able to do "it's thing".
My main reason for selecting S&S was the menu, which is nice and tight, focusing on seasonal Northwest products. We both thought the tapas-type dishes were much more interesting and we prefer having a tasting style meal. Our diet has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years and the small dishes at S&S seemed right up our alley. A variety of great local produce with interesting combinations of texture and flavors. So we were quite excited to try this establishment of the Matt Dillon empire.
There was one interesting thing about the beverage selection.....based on our dinner the previous night at The Walrus and the Carpenter and now Sitka & Spruce, it seems that Wine and Cocktails are still king for meals in Seattle. Which I thought strange since I usually see Seattle ranked in the top 10 beer cities in the US. Here it's nothing on tap, five choices Hilliard from a can or Rainier?
Whatever....I guess we'd just go and find the Stumbling Monk, or another place after dinner.
We started with the Charcuterie ($25)
While the air dried ham (aka prosciutto, though they can't call it that) was "meh", really bland and lacking in the deep cured flavor we love, there were some real winner here. The chicken liver, basically a a light, spreadable pate really caught me off guard, sweet molasses at first, giving away to savory, with that chicken liver finish. I'm not a big fan of metallic chicken liver flavors, though I love my pate's. This gave me a wonderful ride. The duck rillette had a tremendous almost condensed duck flavor. The head cheese was nice and balanced and the pork terrine was also very tasty. Loved the variety of flavors present here.
Next up Delicata Squash, Haloumi, and Pumpkin Seeds ($15).
We started seeing Delicata Squash on menus last fall. The Missus loves them; moderately sweet, with a nice texture, and an edible peel....heck, even I enjoy them. So it goes without saying the Missus loved this. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors, the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds, the light subtle milkiness of the haloumi cheese. I thought the amount of nuttiness and milky flavors went beyond just the haloumi and pumpkin seeds. When I mentioned this to our Server, she also noted that the sauce was made of whey and argan oil. The mint also added another dimension of flavor.......
My least favorite dish of the night was the Charred Celeriac, Braised Quince, Ambrosia Apple and Bread Crisps ($15).
I really didn't care for the amount of almost tart-tannic flavors. The celeriac was lost in the dish. Tongue numbing and not in a good way.
The Smoked Potato, Pickled Seaweed, Anchovy, and Egg Yolk ($16), took me to that edge.....I loved the smoky flavor, the seaweed added a nice oceany brine, the anchovies were teetering on the edge of too salty, but that egg yolk somehow seemed to temper the salt.
I loved the smoked potatoes....why hadn't I tried that before? Smashed potatoes also seemed to be "the thing" in Seattle. The Missus said She'd have preferred bacon, but I told Her, "that would be so TGI Friday's". Loved the crisp skin on the potatoes as well. you can tell by the meal I made the day after we returned, that this dish made an imprint.
By far, the best single dish we had on this trip was the Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Guanciale, Oyster Cream, and Cider ($18).
My goodness, the earthy-savory aroma, meaty texture of the Hen of the Woods mushroom, more familiar to me as Maitake, was just superb. The sage along with the cider added an citrus tone, along with a hint of sweetness. The oysters in the sauce just took the flavors to another level. I'm not sure of the purpose of the guanciale as I couldn't make out any pork flavors. But who cares. In terms of an outstanding dish; this has our votes.
I realize that the dishes we chose and enjoyed at S&S might not be for everyone; especially the hardcore carnivore. There are 3-4 entrees on the menu any given night....this time it was chicken, black cod, and rabbit. I just chose dishes that best reflected the foraging background of Matt Dillon. I believed that this would be the strongpoint of the restaurant and it seemed that way to us. Our check came in at a bit over a hundred and it was worth every penny.
Sitka & Spruce 1531 Melrose Ave Seattle, WA 98101
We were a bit too full and decided against finding a pub. But, as we headed back toward Pike Street we noticed a crowd of people being let into a building. We walked up Pike a bit, then headed back down. When we passed the building again, the Missus couldn't help it.....we had to go and check it out.
The place seemed buzzing....hip.....totally perfect for the Missus....totally wrong for me.
Arriving at the door, we asked the gentleman inside what was going on. "This is the grand opening of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, please come in......" Wow, it seemed like a big deal.
Just looking at the equipment, it looks like Starbucks is experimenting with going more high end.
I'm not the biggest fan of Starbucks....but kudos to them for seeming to ride the Third Wave.
This place looks fantastic and smells wonderful. Roasters were on hand to explain the different processes and equipment.
These guys really know how to market.......
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room 1124 Pike St Seattle, WA 98101
Heading down Pike, we ran into the inevitable shopping crowds.....heck, Christmas is around the corner.
But the crowd seemed extra dense and we heard music in the air......and my goodness...Sugarplum Elves?
It's all these things that makes Seattle special for us....there's always an interesting surprise.
We talked about this as walked back to Whole Foods......the Missus wanted me to get in as much exercise as I could. This was the reason I was thinking of moving here before I met the Missus.
And while I don't think we could live here; it's a bit too cold, there's not enough Asian food within a 2 hour drive, and there's not enough sunshine. The city holds a special place in our hearts. So I guess we'll have to keep coming back.
I usually don't take photos in these type of restaurants. I hate bothering other customers and feel strange with a ton of people around me (i.e. Juniper and Ivy). These have been lying around for a while so I thought I'd just do a photos post.
Very different in terms of cuisine; but some common ties. The service at both places was good. And I thought the salads were the best dish. Strangely uneven and somewhat underwhelmed overall.
The Smoking Goat:
The cassoulet was probably the meal in a microcosm, some of it was excellent, the andouille melted in your mouth, almost etheral, the lamb was just amazing. However, the duck confit was dry and too salty, and the "stewed" flageolot beans, I love the usual firmness giving away to a nice creamy testure, were in this case undercooked and hard, not tough, hard....loved the breadcrumb crust. A hundred bucks later, we left scratching our heads.....
The Smoking Goat 3408 30th St San Diego, CA 92104
For some reason, I really took to the tableside Caesar Salad, it just had the right balance of flavors for me.
Other than that, I can't really say I was impressed.....
Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro 4346 Bonita Rd Bonita, CA 91902
I'm still a bit disappointed that all of that development on the corner of Genesee and Balboa has given birth to a slew of chain and chain like restaurants. Still, something did catch my attention which triggered off this Jungian inspired conversation from Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket:
Pogue Colonel: You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke? Private Joker: No, sir. Pogue Colonel: You'd better get your head and your a$$ wired together, or I will take a giant $^!t on you. Private Joker: Yes, sir. Pogue Colonel: Now answer my question or you'll be standing tall before the man. Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir. Pogue Colonel: The what? Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir. Pogue Colonel: Whose side are you on, son? Private Joker: Our side, sir.
Two restaurants, polar opposites, one trying to place a large, wet, vegan stamp on the fast casual restaurant business, the other, a favorite among fair goers for frying just about everything, seemed to be wanting to place that stamp in our arteries.
You really couldn't find to more contradictory paths with the same goal....feeding the masses, it seemed quite appropriate that the businesses were across the street from one another. Since both were on the way to and from work and meetings, I thought I should give them a try. And you know me, it meant eating at both places multiple times. So here goes.....
The set-up is totally fast casual...remove the tree hugger bright colors and this could be Tender Greens or Smashburger.....or any number of fast casual shops.
On this visit, things seemed a bit disorganized....the cashier was busy talking to her customer and going over things while two other girls just kind of milled around. It looked a bit strange to me....
Like I mentioned earlier, I'd been intrigued by what Elmo and his pals had from Native Foods, so I ordered the Native Nachos ($6.95) and the Native Chicken Wings - in Buffalo Sauce ($5.95).
The nachos really didn't have any mystery flavors, it was fairly straight forward. My complaints would be that the chips were stale and the "native taco meat" was like eating pieces of organic grit, being hard and dry. Everything else was fine if a bit bland.
The "chicken" was a bit too spongy for my taste, though the "Buffalo"....strange because even though it's the name of a city....it's also a name of a pretty tasty four legged critter...anyway the sauce had a mild kick, the batter was decent, but that "Ranch Dressing" was very runny and tasted watered down.
Not a great meal by any means, but not terrible either, so I returned a few days later. I feel kind of like I cheated here since I ordered a salad.....I mean, a place like this should make a decent salad, right?
What kind of drove me nuts this time around was that I saw my salad come up in the window. There were no other customers and I got it to go. The two guys; one of them obviously the manager were just shooting the breeze, so I decided to use a stop watch after watching this go on for a few minutes.
So, it took over 7 minutes for that guy to reach up and grab my salad which had been sitting in the window. Sheesh, with a manager like that, no wonder folks seem pretty lax here.
I had ordered the Mexican Cobb ($8.95) and I thought it to be a decent salad. The Native Chicken sliced thin with an "Ancho" BBQ sauce, which pretty much tasted like a regular BBQ sauce, no deep smokey-sweet chili flavors, though this was not bad at all. I guess thin slices of the stuff works best. The dressing did have a nice little kick. This was nicely put together, from the jicama to the corn, to the black beans. I'd have no problem ordering this again.
And yet, I kind of felt like I needed to try something a bit different. On my next visit, I again hit an interesting delay. Three girls at the front counter, none of them had access to the register. Common sense dictates that perhaps one should just take my order until they can find the person with the blessed access....but no, I just cool my heels.
At least there was no unecessary waiting for what I ordered, the Native Chili (cup - $3.95) and something the cashier recommended sinceI was just stumped, a thing called the Chicken Run Ranch Burger ($9.95).
Eating chili glue with a flavor that seemed watered down and bland is not my favorite experience. I'm passing on this from now on.
If you see this sandwich approaching you; run, don't walk away from it. Imagine biting into a mushy sponge with dry buns, and liquid that looks like it leaked out of coleslaw oozing out. This was severely bland and I didn't enjoy the textural experience either.
For me, it's the salads here......
Native Foods Cafe 5604 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
On the South side of Balboa, Chicken Charlie's FryBQ:
I thoguht this a fairly interesting gamble for "Charlie". It's one thing to create fatty, over-the-top Fair Food. It's another taking that "fry everything gimmick" and having a brick and mortar shop.
I first went just a few days after opening at a bit of an offf hour so the place wasn't overly busy.
In a rather interesting coincidence, I ordered almost the same items as Kirbie did for her post. The Fried Avocados and a side of Fried Chicken.
I had fried several times here, so I'll just go over it once; these are very low quality bulk fries, lacking in potato flavor and kind of dry. The avocados were the favorite item I had here.......crunchy exterior, creamy avocado goodness....like eating crusted fat. Lovely.
The fried chicken were terrible.
These came out very quickly, so I think they were laying around under some heat source. The coating was soggy, grey, sloughing off like dead skin. The meat was cold to the touch and greasy in texture. It was also strangely under-seasoned for my taste.
The next time around I ordered the FryBQ Ribs, which was probably a mistake on my part.
These were hard as rock and the sauce was much to tangy and "dry", with a bit too much spice. You really couldn't taste any smoke or the ribs for that matter. Perhaps that was by design, but these were not my favorite.
Since I was working within the rule of three, I needed to revisit one more time. So I ordered an item that I enjy when done well, the Frog Legs. Frog Legs are a tricky thing, they go dry quickly if over-cooked. If not fresh, they turn a bit sour with a kind of mushy-sliminess to them.
I believe the photo to the right is pretty much my reaction to the frog legs. The fry job on these weren't good as the batter was soft and just fell of the beast. I'm glad the legs weren't dry, but the flavor seemed a bit off. Not even close to what I had at Red Rooster Catfish (which I believe has a new location).
And while I really didn't care for much of what I had here; I have to say the service was efficient. I saw Mr Boghosian follow up with customers who seemed ot waiting too long for their orders several times, which was a nice touch.
In the end, for a place that hangs its hat on frying, I thought the deep fry jobs were very uneven. Perhaps Chicken Charlie's forte are the fried sweets like oreoes and Klondike bars. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so I'll leave that for others.
Chicken Charlie’s FryBQ 5407 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus and I have always said that Seattle is one of our favorite cities. I had even considered moving here before I met the Missus. We've always enjoyed the personality and vibe of the city; the unpretentious, tolerant, down-to-earth, polite, though perhaps a bit introverted folks..... We used to visit every year and our best visits were during the holiday season, so shame on us for not visiting since 2007. And double shame on us for not visiting during the end of fall/beginning of winter in 10 years!
There have been alot of changes in the 7 years since we visited, the very inexpensive Link Light Rail route from SeaTac to Downtown Seattle didn't even exist back then. Now it's an inexpensive $2.75 from the airport. I'd have never even considered staying near Pioneer Square when I first started visiting in 1993, yet here we were dropping off our luggage at the Courtyard Pioneer Square. It was easy making eating plans for this trip. Included in those plans was a visit to the Walrus and the Carpenter. The Missus jumped at the plan, since most of our past trips have kind of revolved around oysters. Of course She had Her own little twist on things. I've long mentioned various "death marches" the Missus had taken me on. Well, this time the Missus had an urban version planned.
She wanted to walk from Pioneer Square to the Walrus and the Carpenter. A walk of approximately 5.72 miles. In Seattle, in winter, yikes!
Just for kicks, I posted the question of this walk on the Chowhound Seattle Board. Unlike some of the other CH boards, the folks here seemed quite helpful. I didn't expect 20+ answers....such varied opinions, from being a terrible (read: a nice way of saying certifiably insane) idea, about 50%, to being an urban adventure. As a joke, I mentioned the comment about going to Fremont, since the Missus had never seen The Fremont Troll. Well, She was all in....which made the walk over 7 miles long! Double sigh.....
Still, we were to start at Salumi. We'd never had a chance to check out this very popular shop, so I was more than happy to start here.
I was told that there's always a line at this shop run by the Batali family....yes, that Batali family. It's an interesting story that you can read here. So, of course there was a line, which moved very quickly, with folks replacing those in line at about the same pace.
I've read rave reviews about the pochetta and all that stuff, but this is a salumi shop. Plus, the Missus doesn't eat much bread these days, so the salumi plate ($13) was an obvious choice. Man, this was good, nice, distinct, yet balanced flavors to all the salumi. And only $13??? Boy, does what we had at S&M recently seem highly over-priced. My favorites? I loved the addition of a hint of curry to the traditional fennel salame, the Finnocchiona Salame. The flavors of the Agrumi Salame, hints of citrus, also was fantastic.
The beef tongue is not sold by weight, so we ordered a sandwich ($10). The tongue was very nicely flavored, beefy, not too salty, nice seasonings, fantastic tender texture. It's a bit too much bread for my taste and I felt bad about not eating it all....but I just couldn't do it; especially after the Missus ate all of the meat of one half the sandwich. A bit too much olive spread for me as well. The ratio is kind of off....but oh man, that beef tongue.....
On a whim, the Missus ordered a single meatball ($2.50) and it was love at first bite.
I loved the sauce, it had just about the right balance for my tastes.....simple, tangy, lightly sweet, that flavor of sunshine.....
The woman managing the orders was very nice. The place is super packed, so she told us to sit at the "front table", which is basically the front display window. Kind of odd and cool at the same time. You feel like some kind of window display and yet, it's interesting to people watch.
We really enjoyed our meal and we look forward to returning next time. More meatballs for the Missus.
Salumi Artisan Cured Meats 309 3rd Ave S Seattle, WA 98104 Hours: Tues - Fri 11am - 330pm
After this, the death march ensued. We basically headed straight down 2nd, past all those familiar places. Up Pine, past Westlake Center and one of the places we used to stay at; the Westin, swinging around back and down Westlake Avenue which used to look a bit more industrial, but now there quite a bit of construction going on. And I swear, the Space Needle used to seem a lot farther away than this......
And when did Whole Foods get here? Must be after 2003 which was the last time around these parts.
This can only mean one thing.....this part of the Denny Triangle is obviously doing well. I was told all the construction going on in the distance were buildings for Amazon in Belltown....
As for the three fairly odd statues right outside, they are works by ceramic sculptor, Akio Takamori, named "Young Woman, Girl, Mother and Child".
From here we passed a ton of newer buildings, intertwined with more industrial businesses like a Firestone Autocare, before arriving at Lake Union.....
And all those houseboats.....
It started drizzling a bit more.....though temperatures weren't too bad....in the mid-high 40's. We hastened our pace a bit, before finally coming to the Fremont Bridge and that sign I love.....
Of course, after crossing we'd have to climb up to visit The Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge which is on North 36th Street.
After crossing the Fremont Bridge, I was a bit wet and somewhat sweaty....it was time for a break. We stopped at Milstead & Co, the Missus had a coffee and I some iced jasmine tea, which really did the job.
We then hikes up the hill, to visit the troll, who seemed to have a mesmerized fan.
The young woman in a blue coat, who looked Japanese, just sat very still and quiet, like she was trying to communicate with the beast crushing a VW. She moved not an inch....she was quietly sitting in place when we left. For all I know, she might still be sitting there, meditating in front of a troll.
Down 36th Street is another of Fremont's "(in)famous" art pieces.....
Yep, that's a statue of Lenin (not Lennon), as in Vladimir, wishing you Merry Christmas. The story of how this statue made it from Poprad, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) to its current resting place is quite interesting. It's funny how you find little threads if you travel enough, this statue which was in front of Poprad's Lenin Sqaure was removed during the Velvet Revolution, which I mentioned in a previous post about Prague.
It was just about 310......and so it was time to head off to our dinner destination.....which was a "mere" 1.9 miles away! Lovely.....
And so we walked on, past the Bev Mo and and the Fred Meyers....and all those industrial areas in between. I'd never been to the Ballard area before....but knew that as long as we saw the #40 bus, we'd be ok. Walking along Ballard Avenue NW, I knew to look for the sign... The Missus walked right pass, but I knew what to look for.
You then had to go down a hallway and at the end you hit paydirt.
It was 345, we'd done pretty good time, about 35 minutes. We were the third party in line(no reservations at this small place)...not bad. I went down the stairs to the restroom, following one of the guys who exiting the restaurant. I was a bit wet and somewhat sweaty from the walk and the drizzle. The guy asked looked at me and said, "drizzling down a bit out there?" I told him that it was a combination of things since we walked here from Pioneer Square, via Fremont. "You what? "I heard that this was where we needed to come for oysters...." "Ok, then, you'll be happy, we got some good oysters tonight." Nice guy! I got myself a bit more presentable and headed back upstairs.
We were asked where we'd like to sit and requested a seat at the bar, which turned out to be a great decision. Remember the guy in the restroom? Well, he was the one working the raw bar..... I just knew this was going to be a nice meal. After all, we were here for the oysters, all local, no middle men, no brokers........
The restaurant itself is tiny, cramped, but warm and inviting and without pretense....like I guess what your little secret neighborhood spot serving world class seafood would be like.....
As for the oysters.....well, I asked for recommendations, describing that I enjoy the finish that's interesting and more on what I call the "nutty, rare beef side", though I appreciate that cucumbery flavor as well. David, our master shucker, chose us, "the oysters he would choose on the menu today."
The first dozen were composed of Treasure Cove, Blue Pool, and Baywater Sweet. The Missus immediately took to the Treasure Cove, which took real well to the mignonette. When it comes to good oysters, I just do a drop or two of lemon, it does just enough to balance out the salinity for me. I just took to the finish on the Blue Pool, it was sort of funky, slightly nutty, with a deep and long lasting finish..... it was just what I'd been wanting.
Meanwhile, our first garde manger dish arrived; the Duck Breast, rockwell beans, masutake mushrooms, sea wolf croutons, and tarragon.
In terms of what we had, this was the weakest dish; but by no means was it terrible, it's just that the duck breat was dry and lacking in the duck flavor we enjoy. The masutake mushroom and especially the beans were the stars of the dish for us. Loved the use of tarragon as well.
The beef tartare was very nice.
Buttery, with a clean, refreshing finish. This went very well with the rye toast and is osmething I'd have weekly if I could.
Our second dozen oysters; Nordic Knute, North Bay, and a repeat of Blue Pool.
I still loved the Blue Pool.....
The Missus demanded equal time, so we got another dozen with Her favorite, the Treasure Cove, plus the Hove Cove and one of my old favorites the Hama Hama.
The Hama Hama had that almost acid like citrus flavor I recall, but the Treasure Cove were still the favorite of the Missus.
Meanwhile, we got to chatting a bit with the master of the raw bar between plates. He was super fast and shucked with amazing ease. Anyway, "David" is David Leck a champion shucker. If you'd like to see him doing his thing, check this out.
We had a great time...... we loved the oysters, the vibe, the folks working here.....they have a great cocktail program and a nice wine list....but I wish they'd do a bit more with the beer program.
Still, when in Seattle, we'll be back. David made it a great night for us.
The Walrus and the Carpenter 4743 Ballard Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107
Speaking of beer. A bit further up the street is a beer bar named The Noble Fir. We stopped by....because; well, I wanted a beer. Luckily they were having a nice progressive. Which I enjoyed while the Missus went meandering around the local shops.
Anyway, the big name in the progressive was the Bourbon County Imperial Stout, boozy, with coffee-caramel-molasses tones, and a boozy hit. It was a bit too much for me, but the Missus really liked it. She also had a Blueberry Ale from Cascade brewing.
Funny, the thing I enjoyed most about the place was the great 80's music they played!
The Noble Fir 5316 Ballard Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107
After our liquid refreshment, we walked over to the bus stop and caught the 40 back to downtown Seattle. The Missus, still believing we needed "more exercise", decided that we should get off at 3rd and Virginia. Which was kind of nice, since we'd get to enjoy the walk through downtown and those sights we'd gotten used too.....
Years ago, we flew into Seattle right after Thanksgiving and ran into a Holiday Parade. At the end, the star at Bon Marche was lit. So even though it's now Macy's, it's still the Bon Marche star to us.
You never know what you'll run into in downtown. On this night it was a Ferguson protest.....
We skirted the protest, which seemed very peaceful and headed down 2nd......past some very familiar sights.
And some that weren't around the last time we visited.
Making back to our hotel. It had been what seemed to be a long day, but it was barely 8pm! I dunno.....maybe old age is settling in, but all that walking....perhaps 9 miles or so really wiped me out!
Still, it was nice to be back in Seattle and we were eating well!
I realize this was a supr long post. Thanks for reading!